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TIANANMEN SQUARE FILM CRITICIZED BY BOTH SIDES, PRODUCER SAYS

By Associated Press / May 1, 1996



WASHINGTON

Chinese authorities passed up the opportunity to state their views in a movie about the violent 1989 crackdown against democracy demonstrators. They are now trying to keep Western audiences from seeing it, the film's producer says.

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Carma Hinton, co-producer of the film, "The Gate of Heavenly Peace," says that some Chinese dissidents also object to the film. Both sides seem to be saying, wrongly, that their conduct has been perfect.

The 10th annual Washington International Film Festival rejected a written request from the Chinese Embassy to cancel showings of the film. The festival runs through May 5.

"The Gate of Heavenly Peace," English for Tiananmen, is three hours long and "goes beyond the surface of history" to show the complex forces behind the massacre of demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, Ms. Hinton said at recent news conference.

In the film, audiences will discover much more about the people, soldiers, and others involved in the crackdown than they learned from "simplistic ... 10-second sound-bite" news broadcasts from Beijing nearly seven years ago, she says.

Hinton, who was born in China and lived there until age 21, says she continues to hope that China will evolve from communism to a more open society "better able to solve social unrest."

"Things are happening in China," which is already less authoritarian than when her family left in 1971, Hinton says.

She says Chinese authorities also tried to stop showings of the film in Hong Kong and New York, among other cities.

The documentary combines extensive archive films with wide-ranging interviews filmed in the United States, Hong Kong, and, clandestinely, in China. While many Chinese agreed to appear, others refused, including prominent Tiananmen dissident Chai Ling and Chinese officials, she says.

Hinton and her husband, Richard Gordon, produced the film, which probably won't be seen commercially in major moviegoing countries for economic rather than political reasons, she says. "A serious film, three hours long, about China can never make money."